Sometimes it is the simple things that matter most

 
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Sometimes it really is the simple things that bring the most pleasure and good old Pooh sticks proves that point perfectly.

Three year old James who is a regular visitor to the boathouse and always looks forward to watching the boats, has just discovered Pooh sticks, and thinks it is great fun.

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And what is more you don't have to be three years old to play Pooh sticks, it appears that this game really has no age barriers!

 

Looking forward to welcoming over night visitors again soon.

 

Goodness me the Winter really seems to have dragged on and on, mind you so have the closures of our deliciously beautiful River Nene.  Last year, I can hardly recall ever raising the red Strong Stream Advice flag - but this year it has been up, down and up again continuously. 

It was so exciting when the green flag was raised for a week or so just before Easter; we saw a real flurry of activity with boaters out enjoying the Nene once again.  But of course with the snow and subsequent rain fall, all that came to an abrupt halt! 

Hey ho, that is rivers for you!

Anyway,  there is nothing else for it except to look forward and keep our fingers crossed that the Environment Agency will soon lift the SSA and, normal river flow will resume so we will be able to welcome overnight visitors once again, which brings me on very nicely to the fact that on 1st April we increased our overnight tariff from  £10 - £12.00 per night. We still believe it represents excellent value, visitors are able to use the Elsan disposal free of charge, dispose of all their recycling, enjoy free WiFi, fill up with water, access the laundry and use our fabulous new showers and toilets as well as relax in the boathouse cafe.  And of course as we approach our third season, everything is looking much more established too.

 

 

 

Top marks for the boathouse

 
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We were absolutely tickled pink when we heard that the Food Standards Agencies National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme had awarded our very own boathouse five stars in its recent hygiene assessment.  To achieve top marks really is testament to Carrie and her team for being fastidious with making sure that the entire kitchen environment is kept spotless and that all the essential requirements especially in terms of record keeping are adhered to.  We could not have asked for a better start to the boathouse.  Don't forget that as from 2nd May the boathouse will be open six days a week from 10 - 4pm.  It will be closed on a Tuesday.

 

Open Days announced

 
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I can't believe it is already the time of year when we start planning our Open Days - but it is and we have!

So if you haven't already been to visit us yet, then please do think about joining us at one of our Open Days - they are usually great fun and provide us with the perfect opportunity for you to meet all the family! 

So the dates for our Open days - this side of the Summer are

Sunday 6th May 10 - 4

and Sunday 1st July 10 - 4

We will be planning a couple more after the Summer - so PLEASE do watch this space.

 

 

Drone shots spark interest

 

What do you get if you combine a glorious winter's day with the creativity and expertise of a local photographer and drone pro?

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Answer:  fabulous aerial photographs and superb interior shots of our new boathouse.

And as soon as we posted Charles Ward's images on social media, the telephone immediately began to ring, not only from boaters interested to find out more about White Mills, but also from people wanting to visit our new boathouse and sample Carrie and Co's cooking!  The power of decent images really can not be underestimated.

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So we are absolutely thrilled to at last have some top quality up-to-date shots we can now use to market our family run venture, which by the way will be celebrating its second birthday on 1st April.

Now where has that time gone?

Anyway, once again very many thanks Charles Ward for such a cracking selection of beautiful photographs.  We are thrilled and we hope that you like them too!

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And another box ticked

 

Well another box has finally been ticked, and what has probably surprised everyone is that it has happened within two months of the last box being ticked! Yup - you have guessed it, the car park is now complete.

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We had always planned that once the boathouse was up and running then our next priority would be to create more cap parking spaces in the car park.  And within a week from start to finish, the car park has been transformed and it really does look really rather good.  Once again, the top team which consists of John, John, John and Gary were at the helm, which always guarantees a quality job. Well done once again lads!

Well, there is no peace for the wicked so it is now onto the next job so we can get another one of those boxes ticked!

 

Brew with a view!

 
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Well - the boathouse is open and Phase II of White Mills Marina is now complete - how happy are we!

 

And what a fabulous start Carrie and Wendy had yesterday - a really good steady stream of people all day long, not just our regular boaters but those people who were out and about for a walk.  And without exception everyone said they were really impressed with Carrie's fabulous bakes as well as with the choice of coffees and teas and overall quality.  Wendy's Club sandwich (our first special) was probably the people's choice although I must say I thoroughly enjoyed my very healthy and extremely delicious roasted red pepper and tomato soup. There was a fabulous atmosphere of unadulterated happiness in the boathouse too - so long may that continue!  Sunday breakfast today - I might just pimp up some granola and keep on that healthy theme - mind you on the other hand,  the English breakfast roll sounds really rather good.....

 

 

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Too busy to blog!

 

Sincerest apologies for the lack of blogs recently, but we seem to have been really busy!  Not only have we been putting the final touches to our truly fabulous facilities building which we hope will be totally up and running from the 1st December,  but we have been busy welcoming new boaters to the marina too, which has been (and still is of course) lovely. 

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Since our last blog, we have held two very successful open days both of which tied in with the Nene Valley Festival .  The second open day also incorporated our annual craft fair.  Luckily the weather was fabulous and the sun shone on both occasions. There was a wonderful carnival atmosphere at our small but perfectly formed craft fair.  Haydn from Drifter provided some superb music throughout the day, and Mildred and Jones were on hand with their delightful little truck to provide teas, coffees and cakes. We had an increased number of stalls this year, which was encouraging. and we are now looking forward to next year when we hope to be able to extend it still further as we will have the use of the new boathouse.

Also at the end of September we took part in the Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan and raised a terrific £342.10.  Many thanks to everyone who supported our efforts, it is such a terrific cause. Luckily yet again, the sun shone so we were able to host the event outside in a marquee which was perfect.

At the end of October, boaters put their creative skills to the test at our annual "pimp your Pumpkin" challenge - the calibre of entries was amazing.  Paul Richards scooped first prize, second prize went to Tailor MacInnes and 3rd Prize to Jackie Kane.   Paul is pictured receiving the much coveted trophy and bottle of fizz from Princess Pumpkin!

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As we said earlier the facilities building will be up and running by the end of the next week. Being a waterside venue our preferred name for our lovely new building although not hugely original, was the boathouse  So for the first time, here is our logo for our brand new boathouse and we hope you approve. We love it!

 

Celebrating the Nene Valley

 
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White Mills will be celebrating all that is good about the Nene Valley later this month when we take part in the Nene Valley Festival.  To mark the occasion, we are hosting two Open Days; one at the very start of the Festival on Sunday 17th September and the other on the very last day Sunday 24th September.

The great thing about Open Days is that they give boating enthusiasts an opportunity to see how we are progressing and how we have progressed since  we first opened 18 months ago. And the wonderful thing about the Nene Valley Festival is that it gives us all the chance to wave the flag for the River Nene and surrounding valley.

It is the second time that White Mills Marina has taken part in the Nene Valley Festival and on Sunday 24th September in addition to the Open Day, we will also be hosting a craft fair.

With very much a local theme, the craft fair will feature a range of stalls selling locally made items from cards, crochet and canal art through to cakes, clocks and coffees, and much more. There will even be an opportunity to chat to Colin Ashby (nb Living the Dream) about his fabulous pet portraits, have a go at weaving, thanks to Wendy Wenham (nb Annie Rose ) and enjoy music by Drifter who is making a much welcomed return to entertain visitors.  So it should be fun!

Oh yes, the Open Days s run from 10am - 4pm. 

 

 

 

Ed conquers the Leeds & Liverpool canal

 
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Congratulations to our very own Ed Blakey (nbComing thru')  who this weekend navigated the Leeds and Liverpool Canal not by boat but by running!  Amazing Ed took part in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal 130 mile race and completed it in a staggering 37 hours!  Tired but euphoric Ed admitted it was one of the hardest things he has done in his life, and even though his feet and ankles had really been put through it and were quite clearly sore, he said it was all worthwhile.   Well done that man!

 

A BBQ to be proud of

 
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Heaven knows where the last six weeks have gone, I can't believe that the last blog was written on 22nd July!  Time flies when you are busy, and it certainly has.  The building of the facilities building has certainly kept us on our toes. We have also had a good turn out from  boaters who visited our stand at Crick and  have either taken the plunge and bought a boat and are coming to stay at White Mills or quite simply want a change of scenery and fancy the more tranquil setting of the River Nene.  Either way bookings are definitely on the increase.  We have also had a good number of overnight visitors which is always lovely, and since we became officially involved with the Friends of the River Nene as a point of call for people to join up, we have had lots of boaters keen to explore the River Nene drop in too.

Oh yes, our camping and caravanning site has proved popular too, with everyone of our campers promising to return when we have hook ups organised next year.  We even had a lovely family from Holland to stay for a week, they loved Earls Barton and all the surrounding villages.

Our community continues to thrive, and we have to say a big thank you to Pete (nb Tregantle) for adding the final piece of the jigsaw to our BBQ which is now up and running.  Situated in the camping area of the marina amongst the trees, looking out towards Whiston church we feel sure it is going to be well used. 

 

 

Speedy work

 

When we were told that our new wooden boat house (aka the facilities building) would be up within two weeks - we were, to be honest, a little bit sceptical.  However, the rate the builders have been working the past few days has absolutely blown us all away.

A smallish team arrived on Wednesday and by Friday evening we really couldn't believe it, all the external walls were in situ as were the internal walls, even all the roof joists were secured! All within just three days. It was only a couple of weeks ago in our last blog that we said the materials had been delivered!  Now look where we are!

It really is a hugely exciting time for the development of White Mills and there is a real buzz of anticipation around the marina.The weather hasn't been particularly brilliant but rain has never stopped play - so a huge and well deserved pat on the back to the Keops team.  Excellent work.

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So it is now the start of the long summer holidays. Let us hope that the weather stays fine and warm, so that all the hard working youngsters can have a well deserved break and get outside and explore their surroundings especially the beautiful Nene. Many of our recent visitors are newbies to the Nene, and even by the time they reach us just on that short stretch from Northampton to Earls Barton they are totally enchanted by it's crystal clear waters and abundance of wildlife. So you can imagine we are looking forward to their return journeys to hear how they got on and what they thought of the Nene Valley.

Word is beginning to spread about White Mills Marina being a certificated Camping and Caravanning Club site, and most weekends we have campers staying with us.  Once the facilities building has been completed then we can focus our attention on our pretty camping area and install electric hook ups. There is always lots to be done!

Well that is about it, must dash - we have an opening celebration for our delightful boaters to organise!

 

 

 

Comings and Goings

 
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Last week was a real diverse week, not only did we welcome a good number of overnight visitors, which is always lovely as we hear about all the adventures they have had on their journeys along the waterways, but we also welcomed several new permanent moorers too.  It is great to see how quickly they along with their four legged pals, have settled in and are enjoying their new, beautiful surroundings. So welcome one and all!

The first delivery of materials for the final phase of the facilities building also arrived, which is very exciting. Work actually gets underway on building it a week today....... And as we keep on saying, it really can not come quick enough.  It will make such a difference.

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During the week, we had a very useful visit from Northamptonshire Fire Services, four firefighters spent the day down at the marina, speaking to boaters and offering fire safety advice.  They even handed out fantastic new smoke alarms which can differentiate between burning toast and something more serious! How clever is that?  It was a hugely useful exercise and much appreciated by our boaters, so thank you to Carrie for organising.

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Our quiet and tranquil River Nene has seen a small increase in boaters over recent weeks, but the waters are still relatively quiet, under used and of course stunningly gorgeous.  There was  a segment on last night's Countryfile about the River Nene and the Rushden Lakes development so it appears the secret about how picturesque and underused the River Nene is might be out! Hey Ho!

 

 

Busy open day expected

 

This week we are gearing up for next Sunday's Open Day, and having had a very successful Crick Boat Show we are expecting it to be busy.

Already we have had a number of visitors phoning up to book a slot for a tour, so to make sure that everyone receives personal attention the entire Skinner team including Sam, Ben and Joe will be on hand to help. Carrie of course will be steering us through the whole day to make sure it all goes smoothly, whilst Wendy (NB Annie Rose) will be making sure there is enough tea, coffee and cake for all our visitors.

We are now hoping that the weather will do us proud and that we all have a great day.  Look forward to seeing you then! 

The Open Day is on Sunday 2nd July and will run from 10am - 4pm.

 

Cracking Crick

 

Phew! What a weekend we had at Crick Boat Show this weekend. Things really could not have gone any better.

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We had a fabulous spot in the Waterways World Marquee (Stand 80) right on a corner in the middle of a busy thoroughfare and were surrounded by some fabulous exhibitors many of whom we met for the first time last year.  It was a very happy, buzzy atmosphere and we felt so incredibly lucky to be located where we were.

It was a real family affair too with all of us spending at least one day manning the stand. Carrie joined the team on the Saturday and made sure that our boat was ready to sail smoothly over the three day event.  And it did! Each one of us came back to HQ in Earls Barton feeling totally buoyed up by the response and interest we received from boaters who are either looking for new moorings or are planning to visit our tranquil and picturesque River Nene.  

We handed out loads of leaflets not just about White Mills Marina and what we have to offer, but also leaflets about the significance of our location right on the edge of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Destination Nene Valley had given us a range of information highlighting what is good about the Nene Valley and River Nene, so we were armed with much more useful information this time around, which visitors really seemed to appreciate.  

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Our enthusiasm and excitement for actually being lucky enough to run a marina has been injected with a huge amount of adrenaline thanks to the Crick Boat Show and which looks set to continue for many weeks and months to come. 

If you are planning to pop in and see us, then please do,  we would be thrilled to show you round and the kettle is always on. Don't forget we have an open day on Sunday 2nd July.

 

Views to savour

 
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One of the loveliest things about White Mills is the stunning countryside that surrounds the marina.  

 

 

This was certainly brought home to us at the weekend when photographer Mike Long from Hi Pix Photography popped in to take some pictures. 

 

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We are so lucky to have such fabulous views of uninterrupted countryside to enjoy. Who wouldn't be happy to come to work in a place like this everyday?

 

Early birds catch the chorus

 

Hats off to our bird enthusiasts who on Sunday rose at the crack of dawn to take part in National Dawn Chorus Day by going out for an early morning stroll with local bird enthusiast Ian Moore.

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The team set off at 5am along the River Nene and headed towards Great Doddington, they did not have to walk far to be treated to a whole cocophony of different bird song. 

During the two hour walk, a whole range of different species of birds were identified purely by their individual songs. Amazing!

As everyone enjoyed it so much Ian has now agreed to host a butterfly and dragonfly walk in mid July which will be fabulous.  Spaces will be limited so if you want to secure your spot, then please contact the office asap.